Dr. Élika Ortega, CSDI Advisory Council Member and Assistant Professor of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies, is the youngest person and the first woman of color to chair the program committee for the international Digital Humanities conference or, as it is known, “DH”. This year’s conference is especially meaningful because it is the first time it will be held in Latin America, and more specifically in Mexico City – Élika’s hometown. Along with her co-chair Glen Worthey, Élika has worked tirelessly to ensure that the location is more than an exciting destination for attendees. For Élika having the conference in the Global South for the first time should expand the field of DH to new ways of understanding the place of the humanities and their relationship with technology in contexts like Latin America. The scholarly concerns are different: analyses of large scale literary corpora, digital publishing platforms, and data visualization can coexist perfectly in this conference with digital media-based indigenous language activism, semasiographic interface design, and issues of digital divides across geographies. Similarly, for Latin American scholars, this is a rare opportunity to attend this prestigious conference without having to travel across the world. The result of Élika’s and Glen Worthey’s work is that in a conference that is usually 95% in English, about a quarter of the presentations will be delivered in Spanish and Portuguese – the two other dominant languages of the region.
For Élika, this is a culmination of years of work. Since 2013 much of her work has focused on ways of establishing cooperation and collaboration ties between Digital Humanities scholars and groups in various geographical, cultural, and linguistic contexts. Having worked in Mexico, Canada, and now the US, she is keenly aware of the importance of weaving networks that enrich not just one’s scholarship, but most importantly, one’s understanding of the place of our work in relationship to the world. The conference, happening in June 26-30, expects about 700 attendees and is being jointly organized by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, the Red de Humanidades Digitales, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the Colegio de México.